If you apply to college in the US, there are 3 ways to apply, the Common App, the Coalition App, and in some cases directly using the Colleges Proprietary App (UC schools in California or Georgetown University for example).
In the case of the Common App or Coalition App, you will be given a space to write a 650-word essay according to a prompt. These prompts can be found once the college admissions season opens in August. If you google search on Common App essay prompt, you can see them from this year and past years. These have to be written by yourself in your own words. In the case of the Common App, over 900 schools will accept this essay as the main essay you submit. In the case of the Coalition App, over 140 schools will accept this as the main essay.
Now if you apply to UC Schools like UCLA or UC Berkeley, they have their own essay prompts which are not the same. So you have to write multiple essays on the UC applications depending on what your Major is. So if you apply to the Film School or the Dance department, you will have to submit a video, and some personal essay prompts in addition to their main essay. The same goes for other specialized schools like Nursing etc.
Many colleges only require the one main essay from the Common or Coalition app. However, if you wish to apply to a more competitive college like an Ivy League school or the University of Chicago, each college has its own supplemental essays. These can be 2 or more essays in addition to the main one, and sometimes very challenging. One of the hardest supplemental essays to write is the University of Chicago one. That typically gives you the choice of 6 or 7 very strange prompts and you are given 2 pages of space to write that with.
Stanford: Essay Questions (100-250 words)
Prompt 1: The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.
Prompt 2: Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate — and us — know you better.
Prompt 3: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why.
I hope that makes sense to you. Good luck.
Your essays, are the space for you to show the admission officers a glimpse of your life and your personality. Essays are the part of your application, which sets you apart from the other applicants.
You will be required to write one general essay if you apply through the Common App, you have seven different options to write your essay on.
Based on the schools you choose, you will have different types of essays.
The most common types are:
1) Why this major?
2) Why this school?
3) What will you contribute to the school's community?
4) Hardships you overcame in life.
Through each essay, you have to tell the admissions officer a different aspect of your personality. They have to learn something new about you from each essay. Each essay is a story of your life.
Hope this helps (:
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